Los Abuelos de la Nada
|Los Abuelos de la Nada|
|Origin||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Genres||Funk rock, New Wave, Rock, Post-punk
Psychedelic rock (early), Folk rock (early)
|Associated acts||Andrés Calamaro, Charly García, Los Twist|
|Past members||Miguel Abuelo†
Marcelo "Chocolate" Fogo
Juan del Barrio
In the mid-1960s, a club in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires named La Cueva was the focal point for rock and roll. Some of the acts were in English, but others were experimenting Spanish language lyrics, notably Tanguito. The regulars of La Cueva also included poetry buffs and young people willing to escape the routines of urban life; some would form the core of the Buenos Aires hippie scene of the late 1960s.
Miguel Peralta was living in the Norte hostel at that time, and was lured into the scene by fellow poetry buff Pipo Lernoud. When a record label, Mandioca, was created specifically to record Spanish language rock, Peralta arranged for an interview with recording executive Ben Molar where he claimed, untruthfully, that he had a band called Los Abuelos de la Nada (the Grandparents of Nothingness) which was ready to enter the studio. The name was taken from a passage in Severo Arcángelo, a book by Leopoldo Marechal. Since Molar acquiesced, Peralta went on and assembled a band, featuring friends Claudio Gabis on guitar, Alberto Lara on bass, Héctor "Pomo" Lorenzo on drums, and Eduardo "Mayoneso" on keyboards. Their first single, Diana Divaga (Diana wanders), featured psychedelic influences. About this time, Miguel started using Abuelo as his artistic surname.
After Gabis left (he was attending college and was reluctant to commit to the band), Abuelo drafted Norberto Napolitano (Pappo). After some more psychedelic-oriented fare, Pappo started nudging the band in the direction of blues, causing Abuelo to leave. Over time, Pappo's project mutated into Pappo's Blues.
Abuelo tried to create new bands, and for a short time was singer of El Huevo (the Egg), which would later become the core of Pescado Rabioso. Abuelo took off to Barcelona in 1971 to try to re-create his career. Abuelo spent ten years in Europe, until bass player Cachorro López, who was a popular session musician with reggae and funk bands, convinced him to return to Argentina for a second incarnation of the Abuelos.
The 1982 Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur) was a catalyst for Argentine rock, as songs with English-language lyrics were not broadcast for several months. The band's materials were favored by radio DJs, including No te enamores nunca de aquel marinero bengalí (Never fall in love with that Bengali sailor) which grew out of improvisation during rehearsals, and Sin gamulán (Without a coat), written by Calamaro.
Charly García took the band under his wing after dissolving Serú Girán, and the Abuelos played in García's 1982 Christmas concert. García also drafted López, Melingo and Calamaro for his band, in parallel with their work for the Abuelos.
The 1983 debut album included many compositions by Abuelo-López, and a reggae hit by Calamaro's former partner Gringui Herrera, Tristezas de la ciudad (City blues).
For their 1983 album, Vasos y Besos (Glasses and Kisses), Melingo wrote his own reggae hit: Chala-man, Bazterrica contributed No se desesperen (Don't despair), and Calamaro chimed in with Mil horas (A thousand hours).
The band became popular with rockers and more pop-oriented audiences. Especially, Calamaro was favored by teenage girls looking for an "edgier" idol than balladeer Alejandro Lerner. The album sold a solid 160,000 records, and was presented in a six-month country-wide tour.
Record executives arranged to send the band to Ibiza for the recording of their 1984 album, Himno de mi Corazón (Hymn of my heart). The album became a sales hit as expected. Later that year, Melingo, who was also working with García and another band (Los Twist), called it quits and was replaced by Alfredo Desiata.
By early 1985, the band's spirits were damaged due to Bazterrica's cocaine addiction, which eventually had him fired from the band, and the rivalry between Abuelo and Calamaro for top billing.
About that time, Calamaro wrote what would be his last mega-hit with the band: Costumbres argentinas (Argentine habits). Sensing that the band was on the verge of dissolution, the band recorded a live album in the Opera theater in Buenos Aires on May 1985. For the occasion, Gringui Herrera replaced Bazterrica, Juan del Barrio reinforced Calamaro in keyboards, and Melingo played some songs as a guest musician.
The band played one last gig on October 1985, in the Vélez Sársfield stadium, to fulfill their contractual obligation to the "Rock and Pop" festival which featured INXS. The crowd reacted badly to the band's evident lack of motivation (the pouring rain and the badly mixed sound did not help), and Abuelo was hit in the face by a bottle hurled from the field. The band played the remainder of their set with Abuelo visibly bleeding.
With the band dissolved, Abuelo started playing small venues, harking back to his roots of poetry-influenced songwriting. Late in 1986, he drafted Polo Corbella, Kubero Díaz, and sax player Willy Crook to form a new Abuelos band, which recorded Cosas mías in 1987 with relative success.
In late 1987, following gallbladder surgery, Miguel Abuelo was diagnosed with AIDS; terminally ill, he died from cardiac arrest a few days after his 42nd birthday. That was the end of the Abuelos as a band; the remaining members reunited several times, with different formations. Notably, Miguel's son Gato played with Calamaro, Bazterrica and Corbella in a 1997 re-union.
The rights to the Abuelos de la Nada name were offered by Abuelo's widow Krisha Bogdan to Kubero Díaz, who refused out of respect. At some point during 2001, it was reported  that Bogdan and Gato were fighting in court over the rights to the name and to Miguel Abuelo's unpublished recordings.
Several compilations mastered by López were issued after the band's demise. The band eventually sold more records after its dissolution than during its successes of the 1980s. Many former Abuelos are still in the limelight, notably Calamaro, who has had a successful career in both Argentina and Spain.
- "Diana Divaga" (1968)
- "En la Estación" -Without Miguel Abuelo- (1971)
- Los abuelos de la Nada (1982)
- Vasos y besos (1983)
- Himno de mi corazón (1984)
- Los Abuelos en el Ópera (Live) (1985)
- Cosas mías (1986)